entertaining inspiration and design

I’ve recently had some friends ask how I put together my cheese trays so thought I would do a little post about it. The first thing is to start with a game plan, there’s nothing worse than staring at a case of hundreds of cheeses and not knowing where to begin! So before you start picking cheeses out at random, know what you want. Plan on serving 4 – 5 different options and about 2 ounces of cheese per person. I like to select a more basic cheese (like a cheddar), a couple more specialty cheeses (like an aged Gouda) and a spreadable cheese (like a chèvre). Keep in mind your guests and their tastes as you’re thinking about your cheese selection…and don’t forget about your non-cheese accompaniments like crackers, dried fruits, grapes and nuts.

For this tray, I picked up my cheeses from Whole Foods and selected a Wisconsin 3-Year Aged Cheddar, Unie Kaas Reserve Aged Gouda, Unie Kaas Robusto Aged Gruyere and a Herbed Goat Chèvre. I also got some Salty Date and Almond Raincoast Crisps, Marcona Almonds (incredible Spanish almonds, roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt) – plus fresh figs and green grapes from the local farmer’s market.

Selecting your cheeses is the hardest part, the rest is just prep and assembly! I like for the cheese to be easy to grab, no one wants to be at the tray attempting to slice a piece of hard aged cheese (okay, so maybe I’ve just been embarrassed trying to do this!). I slice all my cheeses into bite size pieces, and then include a cheese knife for the goat cheese so people can spread onto a cracker or their plate.

When selecting fruit, pick something seasonal and that can be out for a while without changing color (avoid pears, apples and such). Also, don’t forget to cut your fruit options and cut off little sections of grapes so guests can pick up a few at at time!

Once everything is prepped, I put the cheese and fruit back into the refrigerator. About half-an-hour prior to the party I take out all my pre-sliced cheese and fruits and start to assemble the tray (cheese should be served room temperature). Find a nice platter or tray, for an 8 – 10 person dinner party I use my French Oak Barrel board lined with parchment paper. For larger parties (12 or more) I’ll use a silver tray about the size of a letter paper. I like smaller pieces so you have a chance to layer and stack the items! It’s also a nice touch to include a sign with a list of all the cheese and accompaniment items.

Cheese platters are one of my favorite hors d’oeuvres to serve at a party. It’s easy to assemble, looks like artwork on the table and it’s something people can easily eat with one hand (obviously holding a drink in the other!). Bon Appétit!

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Comments (4)

  1. jane Peak: Monday, September 26, 2011

    Your rooftop wine party was so inspiring I wanted to share with you what I did last week based on your ideas. My friend blogged it so you can see some pics. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration!!

  2. Cristina: Monday, September 26, 2011

    Hi Jane, the party you did looked wonderful! Some incredible wines you served as well! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sarah Holsapple: Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Thanks for the cheese tray tips, C. I’m going to use them tomorrow for a jewelry party! May even try the pears in your most recent post. Keep the tips coming!

  4. La Petite Gigi: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    This is absolutely GORGEOUS! I’ve been dying to do a rustic cheese tray and this is just what I’ve been looking for. I’m also obsessed with Marcona almonds and will have to try the salty date and almond crisps. Thanks!

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